head_page Governance of Science in the 21st Century: Mechanisms and Perspectives  - 1-2 October 2009

Launched 07.05.2009
Last updated 15.10.2009

Organiser: Institute for the Study of Science of RAS
Sponsors: Russian Academy of Sciences; Institute for the Study of Science of RAS

Nowadays, it is common knowledge that science and technology are key factors for economic growth and social welfare. However, knowledge production and its embeddings in innovation products and services do not automatically guarantee the well-being and social harmony. Interrelations between science and society, the state and economy, high technology and business are non-linear and multiple-valued processes that exist in the complex interweaving of interests, purposes, and perspectives. Besides that, scientific and technological development implies new local and global threats, bringing ethical issues into the foreground and challenging unquestionable plausibility of new knowledge and technology production.

In order to pull various benefits out of modern science and technology as well as prevent various perils arising from new technologies, the state has to succeed in drawing up an optimal and balanced policy under the given constraints such as limited budgets, growing competitiveness at national and global markets, high speeds in replacements of products and services that include enormous risks and fast interchangeability of innovation actors. No less important is that the state plays a crucial role as public regulator and as such it has, firstly, to create conditions and rules with mechanisms damping as far as possible negative implications of technological change, and secondly, to ensure balanced interests of different actors (business circles, innovation agents, scientific community, consumers of science intensive products and services) and to adapt all interested parts to the rapidly changing and developing new economy.

In the expanding knowledge economy, science and the new knowledge it generates are the central rod on which the other spheres, adjoined with new knowledge production and consumption, are pinned. As the principal supplier of new knowledge science, primarily basic, plays a paramount role in maintaining growth of all the developed economies in the world.

The leading role of basic science requires vision and the governance of knowledge potential in terms of both the provision of research with physical and financial resources and the reproduction of research personnel having top skills and an ability to generate new ideas and knowledge. At this point, the systems of science and higher education touch once again: the latter system is not only the original medium from which science historically sprung but also a long-term supplier of high-skilled and trained labour for science.

The relations between basic and applied research as well as development are far from unambiguous. It is very often the case that advance in applied fields gives an impetus to new trajectories in basic research. On the other hand, applied problems may require new basic results for their solution, which stimulates demand for basic research. Lastly, scientists engaged in applied research and development often author basic discoveries which are, in effect, by-products of their applied studies.

There is no consecutive causality between innovation and basic knowledge either, and innovation may arise at any stage of the research process. The greater the innovation activity of an economy the higher is the demand for new knowledge and the greater the density of innovations distributed over the different research stages. At the same time the big S&T potential and developed science system not always have promoting effect on innovation activity. Close scrutiny of the science and innovation systems of advanced countries makes it clear that from an institutional point of view, these countries have built sophisticated systems of propagation and assimilation of scientific knowledge, which are not limited to technology transfer and intellectual property rights.

In recent years, Russian science faces challenges, not responding to which could undermine its foundation. Among the challenges are needs to attain:

  • substantial improvement in governance mechanisms, first of all in the government and high education sectors (abatement of bureaucratisation in decision-making, introduction of clear criteria to evaluate scientific excellence for both research organisations and individual researchers, detachment of managerial and research functions, increase of transparency in goal-oriented and competitive R&D funding, etc.);
  • positive turn in structural trends of R&D personnel (attraction of talented youth in S&T, decrease of medium age in R&D personnel, etc.);
  • “visibility” of Russian science in the international dimension and its incorporation into the world science.

The objective of the forthcoming conference is to provide in-depth discussion on different aspects of governance of science and the state’s role in modern scientific and technological development, in particular:

  • to discuss and evaluate governance mechanisms of modern science, not only well-known and widely applied but also emerging ones;
  • to shed light on new functions and risks of the state as a major regulator that sets up “rules of the game” in S&T;
  • to mirror emerging trends in the interaction of science and society.

Interested researchers are invited to submit their abstracts (click here)


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